The Full Wiki

Jessica Lynch: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jessica Dawn Lynch
Born April 26, 1983 (1983-04-26) (age 26)
Jessica Lynch at Walter Reed Army Medical Center 2004.jpg
Jessica Lynch at Walter Reed Army Medical Center
(April 28, 2004)
Place of birth Palestine, West Virginia
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army
Quartermaster Corps
Years of service 2001—2003
Rank Private First Class (PFC)
Unit 507th Maintenance Company
Battles/wars 2003 invasion of Iraq
Awards Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart
Prisoner of War ribbon.svg Prisoner of War Medal
Army Service Ribbon.svg Army Service Ribbon

Jessica Dawn Lynch (born April 26, 1983) is a former Private First Class (PFC) in the United States Army Quartermaster Corps. Lynch served in Iraq during the 2003 invasion by U.S. and allied forces. On March 23, 2003 she was injured and captured by Iraqi forces, but was recovered on April 1 by U.S. special operations forces, with the incident subsequently receiving considerable news coverage.

Lynch, along with major media outlets, has since accused the U.S. government of embellishing the story as part of the Pentagon's propaganda effort.[1][2][3][4]

On April 24, 2007 she testified in front of Congress that she had never fired her weapon; her M16 rifle jammed, as did all weapons systems assigned to her unit, and she had been knocked unconscious when her vehicle crashed.[2]


Early life

Lynch was born in Palestine, West Virginia, the second child and first daughter to Deidre Lynch and Gregory Lynch, Jr. Her family could not afford to send her to college; her older brother had to drop out due to financial reasons. Searching for a way to pay for the children's educations, the Lynch family met with an army recruiter in the summer of 2000 when Lynch was seventeen and still attending high school.[5] "He did not lie to the kids," her mother said. He said there was always the possibility of war in the future. "But at that time it was before September 11, and there was no terrorism," Lynch recalls, "so we were like, 'that would never happen to me.'[5] On September 19, 2001, Lynch entered basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and later Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for her Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) as unit-supply specialist at Fort Lee, Virginia.

Battle in Nasiriyah

On March 23, 2003, a convoy of the United States Army's 507th Maintenance Company and the 3rd Combat Support BN elements, led by a Humvee driven by Lori Piestewa, made a wrong turn into enemy territory and were ambushed near Nasiriyah, a major crossing point over the Euphrates River northwest of Basra,[6] The convoy was supposed to detour around the town and instead turned directly into it, eventually running into an ambush. The ambush was unlikely to have been set up in advance, because the Iraqis did not know which course the convoy would take. The navigational error has never been properly explained, because the soldiers had GPS receivers and maps. However, the convoy was a long one, and if the soldiers who knew the route and their location were not near the front of the convoy, it could easily have taken a wrong turn before it was possible to rectify the error. Apparently, the convoy took more than one wrong turn.

Lynch, then a supply clerk with the 507th Maintenance Company (based in Fort Bliss, Texas), was wounded and captured by Iraqi forces.[7] She was initially listed as missing in action. Eleven other soldiers in the company were killed in the ambush and five other soldiers were captured (and later rescued). Her best friend, Lori Piestewa, was seriously wounded in the head and died in an Iraqi civilian hospital, possibly because it was not possible to perform delicate neurosurgery in that hospital under wartime conditions (such as intermittent electrical power).[8]

A video of some of the American prisoners of war, including Piestewa, was later shown around the world on Al Jazeera television. After the war, footage was discovered of both Lynch and Piestewa (in the footage, the latter was still alive) at an Iraqi hospital.[9]

Prisoner of war

After some time in the custody of the Iraqi army regiment that had captured her,[10] Lynch was taken to a hospital in Nasiriya. Iraqi hospital staff, including Doctors Harith Al-Houssona and Anmar Uday, claim to have shielded Lynch from Iraqi military and government agents who were using the hospital as a base of military operations. U.S. forces were tipped off as to Lynch's whereabouts by an Iraqi, who told them she had been tortured and injured but was still alive. The Iraqi was described as a 32-year-old lawyer, initially described only as "Mohammed" and later identified as Mohammed Odeh al Rehaief. In light of Mohammed's role in Lynch's rescue, he and his family were granted refugee status by the United States.

Initial reports indicated that al Rehaief's wife was a nurse by the name of Iman in the hospital where Lynch was being held captive,[10] and that while visiting his wife at the hospital, al Rehaief noticed that security was heightened and inquired as to why. However, hospital personnel later confirmed only part of al Rehaief's story, indicating that while al Rehaief had indeed visited the hospital, his wife was not a nurse there, nor was there any nurse by the name of Iman working there. While visiting the hospital from which Lynch was eventually extracted, al Rehaief claimed that he had observed an Iraqi colonel slapping Lynch. "My heart stopped", said al Rehaief, "I knew then I must help her be saved. I decided I must go to tell the Americans."[10]

Al Rehaief's story has been disputed by doctors working at the hospital, who claim that Lynch was shielded and protected from Iraqi military personnel by hospital staff and was treated well throughout her stay at the hospital.[11] Lynch's own story concurs with these accounts, claiming that she was treated humanely, with a nurse even singing to her.[11][12]

Moreover, according to reports, on March 30, Al-Houssona reportedly attempted to have Lynch delivered to the U.S. forces, an attempt which had to be abandoned when the Americans fired on the Iraqi ambulance carrying her.[13]

According to al Rehaief's version of the events leading up to Lynch's rescue, he walked six miles to a U.S. Marine checkpoint to inform American forces that he knew where Lynch was being held.[10] After talking with the Marines, al Rehaief was then sent back to the hospital to gather more information, which was used to plan Lynch's rescue.[10] Allegedly, al Rehaief returned to the checkpoint with five different maps of the hospital and the details of the security layout, reaction plan, and shift changes.

The U.S. military reportedly learned of Lynch's location from several informants, one of whom was al Rehaief. [14] After al Rehaief came forward and confirmed Lynch's location, officials with the Defense Intelligence Agency equipped and trained an unnamed person, possibly al Rehaief, alternatively listed as an Iraqi informant and as a Central Intelligence Agency agent, with a concealed video camera. On the day of the raid, the informant walked around the hospital, secretly videotaping entrances and a route to Lynch's room. al Rehaief was reportedly paid for his services.

Hospital retrieval

A combat camera video shows the April 1, 2003 footage of Lynch on a stretcher during her rescue from Iraq.

On April 1, 2003, U.S. Marines staged a diversionary attack, besieging nearby Iraqi irregulars to draw them away from Saddam Hospital in Nasiriyah. Meanwhile, an element from the Joint Special Operations Task Force Task Force 121, U.S. Army Special Forces, Air Force Pararescue Jumpers (PJs), and Army Rangers launched a nighttime raid on the hospital and successfully rescued Lynch and retrieved the bodies of 8 other American soldiers.[15]

According to certain accounts of doctors present during the raid, they were gathered into groups at gunpoint and treated as possible hostiles until they could be identified as being hospital staff. Many military and Special Operations Forces experts have defended the tactics of the operators who led the raid, saying that Special Operations Forces teams are trained to expect the worst and move quickly, initially treating each person they encounter as a possible threat. Additionally, the doctors stated that the Iraqi military had left the hospital the day before and that no-one in the hospital had offered any resistance to the American forces during the raid.

One witness account, claimed in an opinion article written by a correspondent within the BBC, included the opinion that the Special Operations Forces had foreknowledge that the Iraqi military had fled a day before they raided the hospital, and that the entire event was staged, even going so far as to use blanks in the Marine's guns to create the appearance that they were firing.[16]

Lynch's injuries

In the initial press briefing on April 2, 2003 the Pentagon released a five-minute video of the rescue and claimed that Lynch had stab and bullet wounds, and that she had been slapped about on her hospital bed and interrogated.[17]

Iraqi doctors and nurses later interviewed, including Dr. Harith Al-Houssona, a doctor in the Nasirya hospital, described Lynch's injuries as "a broken arm, a broken thigh, and a dislocated ankle". According to Al-Houssona, there was no sign of gunshot or stab wounds, and Lynch's injuries were consistent with those that would be suffered in a car accident. Al-Houssona's account of events was later confirmed in a U.S. Army report leaked on July 10, 2003.[18][19]

The authorized biography, I Am A Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg states that Lynch had been raped during her captivity, based on medical records and her pattern of injuries.[20]

Lynch does not recall any sexual assault and was "adamantly opposed to including the rape claim in the book", but that Bragg wore her down and told her that "people need to know that this is what can happen to women soldiers".[21]

Departure from Iraq

From Kuwait, Lynch was transported to a Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, where she was expected to recover fully from her injuries. On the flight to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, the military medics kept her sedated and hydrated. Her family flew to Germany on April 5 to be reunited with her. In a statement, the hospital said, "Lynch had a big smile on her face when her parents arrived".

Lynch underwent back surgery on April 3 to correct a slipped vertebra that was putting pressure on her spinal cord. Since then, she has undergone several more surgeries to stabilize her fractures.

Eleven bodies were recovered at the same time of Lynch's rescue, nine from a shallow gravesite and two from the morgue. Following forensic identification, eight were identified as fellow members of her company, including Private First Class Lori Piestewa. All were subsequently given posthumous Purple Hearts. Details of their deaths are unclear.

Lynch was shown during a controversial display on Al Jazeera television of four other supply-unit POWs. That video also showed a number of dead soldiers from that unit with gunshot wounds to the forehead.

Mohammed flees Iraq

After learning of al-Rehaief's role in Lynch's rescue, Friends of Mohammed, a group based in Malden, West Virginia, was formed to press for al Rehaief to be naturalized as a U.S. citizen and to bring him to West Virginia. On April 29, 2003, Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge announced that Mohammed Odeh al Rehaief, his wife, and their five-year-old daughter had been granted humanitarian asylum on April 28.[22] Al Rehaief and his family were brought to the United States at his request April 10. Al Rehaief published a book, Because Each Life Is Precious, in October 2003, for a reported US$300,000.[23] He is now working in the U.S.

Return home

Jessica Lynch is awarded the Bronze Star, Prisoner of War and Purple Heart medals

Upon her return she was greeted by thousands of West Virginia residents and by then-fiancé Army Sergeant Ruben Contreras. Soon after her return, Lynch and Contreras separated.

On April 12, 2003, Lynch was flown to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to undergo specialized treatment and rehabilitation. On April 17, she underwent surgery to repair a bone in her right foot.

While recovering in Washington, Lynch was inundated with gifts and flowers from well-wishers, so much so that she asked the public to send cards instead. Her family suggested that the public send money to charity and relief organizations.

Lynch was released from the hospital on July 22, more than three months after her injury.

On August 27, 2003, Lynch was given a medical honorable discharge.

Lynch's criticism

Soon after her rescue, Pentagon officials disputed a report appearing in the Washington Post that Lynch had fought back, and the first official report of Lynch's actions during her capture released by the Pentagon weeks later said that she did not appear to have fought back against her captors, in contradiction of earlier Pentagon press releases. According to one former Pentagon official, the stories of her supposed heroics that day were spread by the news media and Congressmen from West Virginia were instrumental in pushing the Pentagon to award her honors based on reports of her actions during her capture.[24][25]

Months after returning, Lynch finally began speaking to the public. Her statements tended to be sharply critical of the original story that was reported by the Washington Post. When asked about her heroine status, "That wasn't me. I'm not about to take credit for something I didn't do ... I'm just a survivor."[26]

Despite the letters of support she received after her testimony before a House oversight committee, Lynch says that she still gets hate mail from Americans who accuse her of making up the heroic acts attributed to her.[27] "I was captured, but then I was OK and I didn't go down fighting. OK, so what?" she says. "It was really hard to convince people that I didn't have to do any of that. That I was injured, that I still needed comfort."[28]

She denied the claims that she fought until being wounded, reporting that her weapon jammed immediately, and that she could not have done anything anyway. Interviewed by Diane Sawyer, Lynch claimed, concerning the Pentagon: "They used me to symbolize all this stuff. It's wrong. I don't know why they filmed [my rescue] or why they say these things."[29] She also stated "I did not shoot, not a round, nothing. I went down praying to my knees. And that's the last I remember." She reported being treated very well in Iraq, and that one person in the hospital even sang to her to help her feel at home.

Controversy also arose regarding the varying treatment and media coverage of Lynch and Shoshana Johnson, an African-American soldier captured in the same ambush as Lynch, but rescued later. Critics, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, said that Johnson's race was a major reason that Johnson received little media attention and a smaller disability pension as compared to Lynch. Other criticism has focused on the ignoring of other members in her unit, such as Lori Piestewa, who had picked up Lynch when her vehicle broke down and was later mortally wounded by gunfire. Male prisoners in her unit received scant media coverage. Lynch always spoke with great respect for her fellow soldiers, especially the ones who were killed in the incident. Lynch had been best friends with Piestewa and at her homecoming gave this tribute:

Most of all, I miss Lori Piestewa. She was my best friend. She fought beside me and it was an honor to have served with her. Lori will always remain in my heart.
— excerpt from Jessica Lynch's homecoming speech[30]

Congressional hearings

On April 24, 2007, Lynch gave congressional testimony before the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the Pentagon had erroneously portrayed her as a "Rambo from West Virginia," when in fact, she never fired a shot after her truck was ambushed.

Earlier in the day, Pat Tillman's brother, Kevin, also testified. She also met with the Tillman family and compared her incident in Iraq to Pat Tillman's in Afghanistan saying that "Our stories are similar." [31] She began her testimony by noting for the record that her appearance was not politically motivated.

In a prepared statement she said:[32]

  • "I believe this is not a time for finger pointing. It is time for the truth, the whole truth, versus hype and misinformation.
  • "I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and tried to make me a legend when the real heroics of my fellow soldiers that day were, in fact, legendary... [T]he bottom line is the American people are capable of determining their own ideals of heroes and they don't need to be told elaborate tales.
  • "The truth of war is not always easy to hear but it is always more heroic than the hype."

Plans and wishes from college

Lynch is a student at West Virginia University at Parkersburg, on a full scholarship because of her military service.

On May 6, 2006, Allison Barker of the Associated Press reported that Lynch, who had completed her freshman year, avoids talking about her military service at school, despite wearing a brace on her left foot protecting nerve damage from her capture: "I think people recognize who I am; they just don't make it obvious. That's good for me because it gives me the opportunity to blend in and not stick out and really experience the college life, just like they are." Lynch also talked about her career plans and legacy: "I know I want to do something with children. [But] I haven't really found my direction, with everything I've been through....I want people to remember me as being a soldier who went over there and did my job. Nothing special. I'm just a country girl at heart."

On August 24, 2006, Good Morning America Weekend Edition co-anchor Kate Snow reported that Lynch wrote a letter stating she would have a baby by the end of the year. reported that Lynch and her boyfriend Wes Robinson would have their first child in January. She made the statement: "I was not sure if this could ever happen for me, learning to walk again and coping with the internal injuries that I still deal with pale in comparison to the tremendous joy of carrying this child." She gave birth on January 19, 2007 through a caesarean section, and named her daughter "Dakota Ann" after her fallen friend, Lori Ann Piestewa, the first woman (of the US-led Coalition) killed in the Iraq War and the first Native American woman killed on foreign soil in an American war.[33]

On television

An NBC TV movie depicting Lynch's ambush and rescue, Saving Jessica Lynch, based on Mohammed's testimony, aired in the U.S. on November 9, 2003, starring Canadian actress Laura Regan as Lynch. In an interview published in the August 15, 2005 issue of Time, Lynch stated that she saw some of it, but that the inaccuracies in it upset her enough that she did not finish watching it. Much of the content in the movie had been disputed.[34][35]

The ABC program Extreme Makeover: Home Edition also featured Lynch in an episode in which she helped build a new house for the family of her friend Lori Piestewa. Piestewa had previously told Lynch that her dream was to return to her home in the Navajo Nation in Tuba City, Arizona and build her parents a home. A divorced mother, Piestewa left behind two young children who were being cared for by her parents, Percy and Terry Piestewa, in a rented mobile home. Lynch applied for a makeover for Piestewa's family. In a two-parter, the team built the family a new home in Flagstaff, Arizona, where they had expressed a desire to move. The team not only built the new home, but also built a Veterans Affairs building dedicated as a meeting place for Native American veterans in the area. The homebuilders gave $50,000 to the family, and Sears gave $300,000 worth of clothing to families on the Navajo reservation. In the course of the episode, a memorial for Piestewa was placed on Piestewa Peak.


  1. ^ "Myth Making". MSNBC. 2007-04-20. Retrieved 2007-05-05. 
  2. ^ a b "Hearing on Tillman, Lynch Incidents: Jessica Lynch's Opening". You Tube. 2007-04-24. Retrieved 2007-05-05. 
  3. ^ "The truth about Jessica". The Guardian. 2003-05-15.,2763,956255,00.html. Retrieved 2007-05-05. 
  4. ^ "U.S. Psychological Operations: Military Uses Networks to Spread Misinformation". Democracy Now. 2004-02-12. Retrieved 2007-05-05. 
  5. ^ a b By NANCY GIBBS (November 17, 2003). "The Private Jessica Lynch". Time magazine.,8816,1006147,00.html. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  6. ^ PDF
  7. ^ "Rambo image was based on lie, says US war hero Jessica Lynch". The Guardian. April 25, 2007.,2064935,00.html. Retrieved 2007-06-07. 
  8. ^ "Saving Private Lynch story 'flawed'". BBC News. 2003-03-15. Retrieved 2007-05-05. 
  9. ^ Lucas, Dean (2007). "Famous Pictures Magazine - Jessica Lynch". Famous Pictures Magazine. Retrieved 2007-07-31. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Lynch, David J. (April 3, 2003). "Iraqi lawyer's courage leads Marines to Lynch". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  11. ^ a b "House panel to probe reports on Tillman, Jessica Lynch". CNN. April 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 
  12. ^ [ Jessica Lynch condemns Pentagon ]BBC News, November 7, 2003
  13. ^ "Saving Private Lynch story 'flawed'"
  14. ^ Dana Priest, William Booth, and Susan Schmidt (June 17, 2003; Page A01). "A Broken Body, a Broken Story, Pieced Together". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-08-01. "Tipped that Lynch was inside Saddam Hussein General Hospital in Nasiriyah, the CIA, fearing a trap, sent an agent into the facility with a hidden camera to confirm she was there, intelligence sources said." 
  15. ^ Associated Press (January 30, 2006). "Army Decorates Lynch's Rescuers".,13319,86633,00.html? Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  16. ^ Saving Private Lynch story
  17. ^ presented by John Kampfner and produced by Sandy Smith (May 15, 2003). "The Truth about Jessica". The Guardian.,2763,956255,00.html. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  18. ^ "Army's Analysis of Former Prisoner of War Jessica Lynch's Capture", Fox News, July 10, 2003
  19. ^ John Kampfner (May 16, 2003). "Saving Private Lynch story 'flawed'". BBC News Online. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  20. ^ Rick Hampson. "Lynch book tells of rape by captors". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 
  21. ^ Susan Faludi, The Terror Dream, page 191. Metropolitan Books, 2007. ISBN 978-0-8050-8692-8
  22. ^ Terry Frieden and correspondent Kelli Arena contributed to this report. (April 30, 2003 Posted: 2:18 AM EDT (0618 GMT)). "Iraqi who helped rescue POW granted asylum". CNN. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  23. ^ "PR Specialist of Debunked Persian Gulf War Incubator Story Promotes New Book on Lynch 'Rescue'", Democracy Now', October 17, 2003
  24. ^ Delong, M. "Politics During War." New York Times, April 27, 2007
  25. ^ Priest, D., Booth, W., Schmidt, S. "A Broken Body, A Broken Story, Pieced Together." Washington Post, June 17, 2003
  26. ^ AP (2007). "Rescued POW disturbed by exaggerated early reports of her ordeal". NCTimes. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  27. ^ Former POW Jessica Lynch Recalls Her Captivity in Iraq - US News and World Report
  28. ^ "Former POW Jessica Lynch Recalls Her Captivity in Iraq". U.S.News. 2008-03-14. 
  29. ^ "Lynch: Military played up rescue too much". CNN. November 7, 2003 Posted: 7:24 PM EST (0024 GMT). Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  30. ^ Lynch, Jessica (July 22, 2003). "Hero's Welcome For Jessica Lynch". CBS. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Lawmakers see cover-up, vow to probe Tillman death". San Francisco Chronicle. April 25, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-25. 
  33. ^ Macon Morehouse (January 19, 2007). "Former POW Jessica Lynch Welcomes a Daughter". People (magazine).,20009213,00.html. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 
  34. ^ "Tinseltown Eyeing POW's Tale", Entertainment Online, April 10, 2003
  35. ^ "NBC to make movie about POW Jessica Lynch", CNN, April 11, 2003

Further reading



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and try to make me a legend, when the real heroics — of my fellow soldiers that day — were legendary.

Jessica Dawn Lynch (born 26 April 1983) is a former Quartermaster Corps Private First Class (PFC) in the United States Army, who became famous as a prisoner of war of the Iraqi military in the 2003 invasion of Iraq who was rescued by United States forces on 1 April 2003.


  • I'm not about to take credit for something I didn't do.
    • On reports of her fighting fiercely until captured. She was actually unconscious because of her injuries in a rocket grenade explosion and subsequent vehicle crash. BBC News (7 November 2003)

Congressional testimony (2007)

Testimony to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (24 April 2007)
  • I lived the war in Iraq, and today I still have family and friends fighting in Iraq. My support for our troops is unwavering. I believe this is not a time for finger-pointing, it is a time for truth — the whole truth— vs. hype, and misinformation.
  • I was given opportunities not extended to my fellow soldiers, I embraced those opportunities to set the record straight.
  • I had a story tell, a story that needed to be told so that people would know the truth.
  • The nurses at the hospital tried to soothe me, and they even tried unsuccessfully at one point to return me to Americans.
  • A group came to the hospital to rescue me. I could hear them speaking in English but I was still very afraid. Then a soldier came into the room. He tore the American flag from his uniform and he handed it to me in my hand. And he told me "We're American soldiers, and we're here to take you home."
    And I looked at him and I said "Yes, I am an American soldier too."
  • When I remember those difficult days, I remember the fear, I remember the strength, I remember that hand of that fellow American soldier, reassuring me that I was going to be okay.
  • Tales of great heroism were being told... at my parents home in Wirt County, West Virginia, it was understaged by media all repeating the story of the "little girl Rambo" from rural West Virginia who went down fighting.
    It was not true.
The truth of war is not always easy. The truth is always more heroic than the hype.
  • I have repeatedly said, when asked, that if the stories about me helped inspired our troops and rally a nation, then perhaps there was some good. However, I am still confused as to why they chose to lie and try to make me a legend, when the real heroics — of my fellow soldiers that day — were legendary.
  • The bottom line is the American people are capable of determining their own heroes — ideals for heroes — and they don't need to be told elaborate lies.
  • My hero is every American who says "My country needs me" and answers that call to fight. I had the good fortune and opportunity to come home and to tell the truth; many soldiers, like Pat Tillman... did not have that opportunity. The truth of war is not always easy. The truth is always more heroic than the hype.
    • Her final statement has also been quoted in news reports as "The truth of war is not always easy to hear but it is always more heroic than the hype".

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address